MANILA

Nearly P12B needed to hire more contact tracers, DOH says

THE Department of Health (DOH) said nearly P12 billion would be needed for the government to hire additional contact tracers as part of the battle against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In a virtual press briefing, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire disclosed that they would need P11.7 billion for the next three months if the government is to meet the one contact tracer per 800 people standard ratio.

"When we computed the numbers for the budget for contact tracers, we saw that we would be needing about P11.7 billion for three months," said Vergeire.

The bulk of the expenses will go to the salary of the contact tracers, with the DOH assuring that the rate would be at par with existing salary grades for government personnel.

"Surely, they will get compensated according to the existing salary grades of the Civil Service Commission (CSC)," she said.

Earlier, the DOH said it was looking to hire some 95,000 contact tracers nationwide in a bid to enhance contact tracing efforts of local government units (LGUs).

This would be in addition to the existing 38,000 contact tracers that the government already has.

The move comes on the heels of the World Health Organization (WHO) describing the Philippines' contact tracing efforts as being "slow."

“Delay in contact tracing needs to be addressed because, otherwise, we are not going to catch up with the transmission the virus,” said WHO acting representative to the Philippines Socorro Escalante at a recent online media forum.

Vergeire had said they were working with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to establish guidelines in hiring contact tracers, particularly their qualifications.

"We are expecting that DILG will be the one to manage this since it will be the LGUs that will hire, train, and deploy these contact tracers," she said.

Vergeire said they recommended that they hire allied medical professionals, or at least a graduate or undergraduate of an allied medical course, as contact tracers.

Contact tracing is the identification and follow-up of persons who may have come into close contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 to reduce the spread of infection. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)


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